Water-rich New England builds ... a desalination plant?
Brockton, Mass., seeks a certain supply to assure growth. Some worry about what such installations portend.
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“We’re glad to be here and think this plant will do a good service for towns in this area,” he says, looking out over the Taunton River beside the intake area and the net that keeps fish out.
Eventually, he says, a half dozen other communities could be served by the same pipeline if the plant one day expands its capacity.
“Obviously, the first thing a community must do is conserve its water and fix the leaks in its pipes,” Mr. Andres says. “But Brockton has done that and they still need water to grow. So do some of the other towns. We think this is the future.”
He may be right. With the decline in processing cost, desalination plants with a combined capacity of about 42 million cubic meters a day are operating worldwide today. They will surpass the 100 million cubic-meter mark by 2016, according to a 2007 report by the Zurich-based Sustainable Asset Management (SAM) group investment firm.
There are numerous desalination proposals being weighed for California and Florida, where Inima is also competing for work. Worldwide, the market for large-scale reverse-osmosis filtration systems is expected to grow nearly 50 percent over the next four years, according to the McIlvaine Company, a Northfield, Ill., market-research firm. Topping its sales list forecast is the US, followed by Japan, Saudi Arabia, China, and Spain.
“We expect to see the greatest growth in the area of desalination, especially in Asia and the Middle East,” Robert McIlvaine, the company president, said in a statement.
Desalination won’t do for Maude Barlow. The Canadian water warrior is worried that desalination puts control of clean water in the hands of corporations and undermines what should be strong efforts by government to stop waste and pollution of natural supplies.
In her view, the future could include desalination plants ringing the world’s oceans to produce costly water for the masses, while the rich will “drink only bottled water found in the few remaining uncontaminated parts of the world.”
But don’t tell that to Inima’s Mr. Andres.
“We think we’re doing something really good here,” he says. “People in this area need water – and we’re helping them.”